[Review] A few notes on Nana Mizuki’s double single release

As some of you may know, Nana is releasing two singles, titled SCARLET KNIGHT and POP MASTER, this week. Last time she did something like this was back in 2002, that is, 9 years ago, so an occasion like this deserves a post, doesn’t it? Oh, wait, everything Nana releases is worth a post!

Every time I look at the POP MASTER cover (right), my eyes bleed. It couldn’t be any cheaper could it? It seems they spent all the money on the SCARLET KNIGHT one (left) – probably one of her best CD covers ever ❤

Anyway, since this is mainly about the music, let’s start talking about what really matters: the content. While two singles on the same day may seem a lot, let’s remember that they only contain 2 tracks each, so basically we’re getting the same amount of new songs we got in each of her past 3 singles (4 each). These new singles are being released this Wednesday, but they’ve been on the Internet since last Saturday, so I’ve had plenty of time to listen to them carefully (plus I’ve been listening to the radio rips of some of the songs ever since they were first streamed) in order to give a more or less solid opinion.

SCARLET KNIGHT is the first of the two singles and Nana’s 23rd overall. More often than not, CDs with pretty covers tend to be crappy, but by listening to the title track, that doesn’t seem to be the case of this one. SCARLET KNIGHT is one of those epic Nana songs with overly powerful vocals we all love. It reminds a lot of stuff like Justice to Believe, but there’s something about SCARLET KNIGHT that makes it a lot more epic. The majestic instrumentals, paired with Nana’s impressive vocals, make out of this song a musical orgasm. I LOVE IT. One of the best songs she has released as of recent. Her a-sides from the IMPACT EXCITER era were all pretty good (yes, I love Mugen, screw the haters), but this is even better. The intro and the chorus are with no doubt the best parts. Now if only the PV was half as good…

Then, we move on to HIGH-STEPPER, the only b-side of the single. My first impression of this song was: “wow, SCOOP SCOPE meets Sabaku no Umi“, and yes, it’s basically a rockish version of SCOOP SCOPE and with stronger, more ‘serious’ vocals instead of the cute voice she used in said song (and the reason why, among the many rock songs Nana has, Sabaku no Umi in particular came to my mind is the intro, which reminds me a LOT of it). I like SCOOP SCOPE, but HIGH-STEPPER has what the former needed to be more than just a good song. It’s far from the epicness explosion that was SCARLET KNIGHT, but still a pretty nice song, fresh and different to what we usually get from her. Perfect as b-side material.

Wow, that was such a great single… will POP MASTER be as good, or is this another deal like Minori Chihara’s double single release where one of them was awesome beyond words and the other utter crap? Let’s see:

I’m going to be honest, when I first heard POP MASTER, my initial impression was far from being good. From the name, and having been previously described as a “dance song with a strong choreography”, I expected something of the likes of Gimmick Game or Toraware no Babel, so when I heard a generic cute pop song instead, I was quite disappointed. Unlike a great deal of the non-Japanese fandom of J-pop, who tends to hate every “kawaii-sounding” song to death, I usually don’t mind J-singers releasing cute songs, but in Nana’s particular case, it kinda bugs me because being such an impressive vocalist, singing this kind of songs feels like a waste of her vocal talent. Thank god the song grew on me after a few listens and now it’s one of my many guilty pleasures. But let’s be honest, even though biased me loves it now, POP MASTER is not worthy of being an a-side. It would be perfect as b-side material or even as a possible album track, but this is not the kind of a-side I expect from Nana. It’s not bad, actually, it’s quite catchy and gets a lot better with every extra listen, but compare it to SCARLET KNIGHT for example… it’s clearly the weakest song of the new batch.

And finally, we move on to the last of the new songs, UNBREAKABLE. OMG, now that’s the kind of song I expect from Nana… why wasn’t this the a-side? This is what expected POP MASTER to be: a very upbeat dance song with strong vocals. I love it almost as much as SCARLET KNIGHT, and like this song, I’ve been playing it non-stop ever since it was streamed. I feel like dancing whenever I listen to it… even though trying to dance to this must be so tiring.

Oh, so it’s already over? Me wants more… it would’ve been great if each single had 3 songs at least. Anyway, since everybody loves rankings, I’ll post my ranking for Nana’s new songs, directly copypasted from a shout I left on Last.fm:

1. SCARLET KNIGHT

2. UNBREAKABLE

3. HIGH-STEPPER

4. POP MASTER

SCARLET KNIGHT and UNBREAKABLE are by far the best songs on the single: powerful instrumentals, powerful vocals, and pretty much all the elements that make most of Nana’s songs so awesome. 2 great songs, a pretty good one and an alright one… not a bad balance at all! (I personally love all songs now, but I tried to be as objective as possible). If you’re one of those people who don’t really like her experimental stuff, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy these singles a lot – okay, except HIGH-STEPPER maybe – since they’re closer to the style that fans who have been following her for a while now are more familiar with. Both singles are worth listening, despite POP MASTER being weaker than a title song should, and really good actually. I know I’ve said this way too many times already, but… great job, Nana!

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4 responses to “[Review] A few notes on Nana Mizuki’s double single release

  1. Ai April 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I agree so much with this review. My ranking is the same as yours, but POP MASTER is growing on me with each listen. I’m not disappointed with any song on either single, and I think they’re all awesome. As expected of Nana!

  2. Catherine Meyers May 27, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Hi,

    My name is Catherine Meyers, I’m the admin of a web blog directory, while reading your blog and it’s reviews and articles about j-pop, seiyuus and japanese entertainment in general (love Yuki’s Reactions <3!), I was wondering if you might be interested in a link exchange (no money involved), I would add your blog in my directory so my visitors will also visit your site and in exchange you add my website to your blogroll or links. Please let me know if you are interested and the best of luck with Orchestral Delusion.

    Cheers!
    Cathy

  3. desperatebenou July 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Well, it’s crazy how we all have the same opinion for everything about Nana.
    But yeah, now that I saw her in seven pieces, singing POP MASTER, I’d say that she became my 2nd favorite from these two singles. UNBREAKABLE is really really nice but I have the impression she yells too much. In her LIVE JOURNEY, I think this is going to be like that. At some parts of that song, her voice is really really high-pitched, like nowhere else “We’re gonna fly~”